FROM ALAN MeELWAIN IN ROME
R what is believed to be the first time in Italy, two-thirds of the priests in a diocese have asked the Vatican to hear their views before a new bishop is appointed.
In Nole, province of Naples, which has 365.000 Catholics, 150 priests say they hope their request to be heard will not be taken as opposition to legitimate ecclesiastical authority, but rather as indicating a willingness and anxiety to collaborate in a matter deeply affecting the welfare of the diocese.
They also stress they are not in any way challenging the authority of Pope Paul, who has the last word on the appointment of bishops.
The Note priests say there have been "radical social changes" in the diocese since the late Bishop Adolfo Binnin took office 18 years ago. They are afraid that a new bishop ignoraot of the diocese and 'its grave problems, might find himself in difficulty.
AFTER THE DUTCH Their move follows the upheaval in Rotterdam over the appointment, against the wishes of the diocesan Pastoral Council, of Bishop Simonis, who was considered to conservative for that diocese.
Recently the Presbyterial Council of Alba, in Piedmont, North Italy, protested against
51-year-old Bishop Liogi Bongianino, who was elected a few months ago. The priests accused him of authoritarian methods in running the diocese. After what was described as a "lively meeting," with the Bishop himself in the chair, the Council passed a motion disapproving his actions in making important decisions without first consulting his clergy.
The priests cited the case of Fr. Michele Balocco, for many years Vicar-General of Alba, who was dismissed because the Bishop disagreed with his policies which, on the other hand, were fully supported by the Presbyterial Council.